Beth Schultz
Beth Schultz is editor of No Jitter and program co-chair for Enterprise Connect. Beth has more than two decades of...
Read Full Bio >>

Beth Schultz | September 29, 2016 |


Cloud Voice Quality: Skype for Business Partners Got You Covered

Cloud Voice Quality: Skype for Business Partners Got You Covered Get help from the Skype for Business partner ecosystem to assure your enterprise users have great end-to-end calling experiences.

Get help from the Skype for Business partner ecosystem to assure your enterprise users have great end-to-end calling experiences.

A small pleasure for me as a business traveler is sinking into a good book on my way home from a brain-numbing (in a good way) trip -- say, from Atlanta post-Microsoft Ignite. After spending three jam-packed days at the conference, where cloud-related content prevailed, the only kinds of clouds I wanted to think about as I flew home yesterday afternoon were the scenic ones hanging overhead in the Nebraska wilderness depicted in the novel I was reading.

That was my plan, but I got sidetracked a few chapters in when I got to this passage: "... her heart was sick as she tried to think of a way to warn her mother, who still didn't understand about the telegraph, or the newest invention, the telephone, which captured a person's voice and sent it across the land. Rose wondered if the voice would sound the same when it returned from its journey."

Well dang it if we're not still more or less wondering the same thing today -- a topic, in fact, of much discussion at Ignite. And so there I was, barely mid-flight, and off to thinking not about the Western sky, but once again about the quality of cloud voice.

As I mentioned earlier this week in my No Jitter post, "Showtime for Skype for Business Online," Microsoft believes that a great experience with Skype for Business is contingent on lots of preparation. Gurdeep Singh Pall, corporate VP of Skype, declared it from the stage as he delivered a keynote on cloud communications. "One of the things we learned over the last few years, one of the single biggest indicators of whether you're going to have a great experience or an OK experience with Skype for Business," he said, "is how well you evaluate, plan, and deploy the product."

The cloud simplifies things, "but there's still a bunch of work to be done," he added.

One of the best ways to assure this from the get-go is to start off with a network assessment. Just because an enterprise has been running VoIP over its network for years doesn't mean that network is optimized for voice. Run a network assessment and you're sure to find faulty access points and misconfigured routers, for example.

Of course, even if an organization has fine-tuned its network prior to pushing voice into the cloud, jitter or other problems may still arise. And when they do, IT needs to be able to go into the system and see exactly when, where, and why the call went bad -- did things go sour on the enterprise WAN, across the Internet pipe into the cloud, or in Microsoft Azure somewhere?

During his keynote, Pall made clear that Microsoft expects partners to share the responsibility of ensuring a great quality experience with Skype for Business cloud voice. To that end, he announced, Microsoft has a goal of certifying the hundreds of partners it has globally on the Skype Operations Framework (SOF) launched in July. "We want to put them through this process so the deployments always come out right," he said.

In the time leading up to and during Ignite I was able to catch up with a few of the Skype for Business partners looking to help carry the onus.

Last week, for example, Unify Square announced the PowerSuite operations management suite for Skype for Business. Enhancements include the delivery of a single-pane-of-glass view for hybrid Skype for Business environments, customized call reporting and analysis, an insights center for highlighting and surfacing issues to IT's attention, and the ability to manage Polycom and Yealink IP phones.

Sample screen captures from a Unify Square PowerSuite dashboard

And at Ignite, Unify Square announced a "Special Edition" bundle of its PowerAssurance managed Skype for Business service. This "mega" bundle comprises a set of tools and systems that map to the SOF's plan, deliver, and operate phases. It includes a new subscription-based site transformation accelerator service, to support either cloud or on-premises voice rollouts; its UC RightTrack design workshop; a network readiness service; and a user adoption service. Each service is available on its own, as well.

Network assessment also factored into announcements from IR, Modality Systems, and Nectar.

IR announced the IR Prognosis UC Assessor, now available for use by partners in assessing and testing their clients' network readiness for Skype for Business Online. The UC Assessor auto-detects the closest Skype for Business Online edge points to your sites, tests performance from multiple sites, simulates Skype traffic for load testing, and identifies network segments performing poorly, among other functionality.

Modality introduced a trio of SOF-compatible products for optimizing Skype for Business and Office 365 cloud deployments: UC 365 – Network Assessment; Cloud Explorer, for those looking to begin their cloud journeys; and Cloud Accelerator, for those wanted to accelerate their cloud transformations.

And Nectar launched an advanced partner designation program for helping customers identify which partners have been certified to leverage its Perspective synthetic traffic generation engine to design, deploy, and report the results of network assessments for Skype for Business cloud and on-premises deployments.

I've only scratched the surface here of what's available from the Skype for Business partner ecosystem to help assure that great experience of which Sinclair and Pall talk. With the right evaluation, planning, and deployment processes, as they say, it does seem possible to make sure the voice that journeys across the Microsoft cloud does indeed magically "sound the same" from one end to the next.

Follow Beth Schultz and No Jitter on Twitter and Google+!
Beth Schultz on Google+


October 24, 2018

With disparate workplaces and ever-expanding volumes of information to manage, the challenges for collaborating effectively are only intensifying. Many critical applications are not integrated, and

October 10, 2018

Businesses are growing across international borders quicker than ever, but scaling operations to follow suit can be a harder, longer process.

This webinar focuses on scaling your next-generat

September 26, 2018

Join Kevin Kieller, Microsoft UC&C expert, along with Ribbon Communications and Polycom, for an update on Microsoft Ignite, and a focus on critical things you need to know about your voice deployme

March 12, 2018
An effective E-911 implementation doesn't just happen; it takes a solid strategy. Tune in for tips from IT expert Irwin Lazar, of Nemertes Research.
March 9, 2018
IT consultant Steve Leaden lays out the whys and how-tos of getting the green light for your convergence strategy.
March 7, 2018
In advance of his speech tech tutorial at EC18, communications analyst Jon Arnold explores what voice means in a post-PBX world.
February 28, 2018
Voice engagement isn't about a simple phone call any longer, but rather a conversational experience that crosses from one channel to the next, as Daniel Hong, a VP and research director with Forrester....
February 16, 2018
What trends and technologies should you be up on for your contact center? Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center & Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2018, gives us the lowdown.
February 9, 2018
Melanie Turek, VP of connected work research at Frost & Sullivan, walks us through key components -- and sticking points -- of customer-oriented digital transformation projects.
February 2, 2018
UC consultant Marty Parker has crunched lots of numbers evaluating UC options; tune in for what he's learned and tips for your own analysis.
January 26, 2018
Don't miss out on the fun! Organizer Alan Quayle shares details of his pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon, TADHack-mini '18, showcasing programmable communications.
December 20, 2017
Kevin Kieller, partner with enableUC, provides advice on how to move forward with your Skype for Business and Teams deployments.
December 20, 2017
Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst with ZK Research, shares his perspective on artificial intelligence and the future of team collaboration.
December 20, 2017
Delanda Coleman, Microsoft senior marketing manager, explains the Teams vision and shares use case examples.
November 30, 2017
With a ruling on the FCC's proposed order to dismantle the Open Internet Order expected this month, communications technology attorney Martha Buyer walks us through what's at stake.
October 23, 2017
Wondering which Office 365 collaboration tool to use when? Get quick pointers from CBT Nuggets instructor Simona Millham.
September 22, 2017
In this podcast, we explore the future of work with Robert Brown, AVP of the Cognizant Center for the Future of Work, who helps us answer the question, "What do we do when machines do everything?"
September 8, 2017
Greg Collins, a technology analyst and strategist with Exact Ventures, delivers a status report on 5G implementation plans and tells enterprises why they shouldn't wait to move ahead on potential use ....
August 25, 2017
Find out what business considerations are driving the SIP trunking market today, and learn a bit about how satisfied enterprises are with their providers. We talk with John Malone, president of The Ea....
August 16, 2017
World Vision U.S. is finding lots of goodness in RingCentral's cloud communications service, but as Randy Boyd, infrastructure architect at the global humanitarian nonprofit, tells us, he and his team....
August 11, 2017
Alicia Gee, director of unified communications at Sutter Physician Services, oversees the technical team supporting a 1,000-agent contact center running on Genesys PureConnect. She catches us up on th....
August 4, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, has lately been working on integrating enterprise communications into Internet of Things ecosystems. He shares examples and off....
July 27, 2017
Industry watcher Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares her perspective on this acquisition, discussing Mitel's market positioning, why the move makes sense, and more.
July 14, 2017
Lantre Barr, founder and CEO of Blacc Spot Media, urges any enterprise that's been on the fence about integrating real-time communications into business workflows to jump off and get started. Tune and....
June 28, 2017
Communications expert Tsahi Levent-Levi, author of the popular blog, keeps a running tally and comprehensive overview of communications platform-as-a-service offerings in his "Choosing a W....
June 9, 2017
If you think telecom expense management applies to nothing more than business phone lines, think again. Hyoun Park, founder and principal investigator with technology advisory Amalgam Insights, tells ....
June 2, 2017
Enterprises strategizing on mobility today, including for internal collaboration, don't have the luxury of learning as they go. Tony Rizzo, enterprise mobility specialist with Blue Hill Research, expl....
May 24, 2017
Mark Winther, head of IDC's global telecom consulting practice, gives us his take on how CPaaS providers evolve beyond the basic building blocks and address maturing enterprise needs.
May 18, 2017
Diane Myers, senior research director at IHS Markit, walks us through her 2017 UC-as-a-service report... and shares what might be to come in 2018.
April 28, 2017
Change isn't easy, but it is necessary. Tune in for advice and perspective from Zeus Kerravala, co-author of a "Digital Transformation for Dummies" special edition.
April 20, 2017
Robin Gareiss, president of Nemertes Research, shares insight gleaned from the firm's 12th annual UCC Total Cost of Operations study.
March 23, 2017
Tim Banting, of Current Analysis, gives us a peek into what the next three years will bring in advance of his Enterprise Connect session exploring the question: Will there be a new model for enterpris....
March 15, 2017
Andrew Prokop, communications evangelist with Arrow Systems Integration, discusses the evolving role of the all-important session border controller.
March 9, 2017
Organizer Alan Quayle gives us the lowdown on programmable communications and all you need to know about participating in this pre-Enterprise Connect hackathon.
March 3, 2017
From protecting against new vulnerabilities to keeping security assessments up to date, security consultant Mark Collier shares tips on how best to protect your UC systems.
February 24, 2017
UC analyst Blair Pleasant sorts through the myriad cloud architectural models underlying UCaaS and CCaaS offerings, and explains why knowing the differences matter.
February 17, 2017
From the most basics of basics to the hidden gotchas, UC consultant Melissa Swartz helps demystify the complex world of SIP trunking.
February 7, 2017
UC&C consultant Kevin Kieller, a partner at enableUC, shares pointers for making the right architectural choices for your Skype for Business deployment.
February 1, 2017
Elka Popova, a Frost & Sullivan program director, shares a status report on the UCaaS market today and offers her perspective on what large enterprises need before committing to UC in the cloud.
January 26, 2017
Andrew Davis, co-founder of Wainhouse Research and chair of the Video track at Enterprise Connect 2017, sorts through the myriad cloud video service options and shares how to tell if your choice is en....
January 23, 2017
Sheila McGee-Smith, Contact Center/Customer Experience track chair for Enterprise Connect 2017, tells us what we need to know about the role cloud software is playing in contact centers today.